It’s the day you’ve been waiting for! It’s the grand opening of your new location. The new furnishings and decorations look great, and the invitations have gone out. You unlock the front door and flip the light switch, but nothing happens! Your heart goes to your throat. Did something go wrong with your utility accounts?
Simple as flipping a switch? Not quite.
Property management is hard enough without adding utility management to the task list. Ensuring the phones work and the lights turn on for the first day of business is just as important as getting the right furnishings and proper inventory.
Something as simple as an incorrect billing address can cost your facility big down the road and could delay opening. Don’t let a small mistake get you into a messy situation.
Know what you need
Prior to filing your application, you must commit to thorough data gathering. Some common data needed for most applications includes:
- Usage (what will the meters be used for? Heat, appliances, etc).
- Square footage
- Type(s) of service needed
- Tax ID numbers
- Entity names
- Lease agreements and owner info
Without the proper data, your application may be rejected, leaving you scrambling for power at the last minute.
You’ve got the data, now you just fill in the blanks, right? Unfortunately utility applications are a bit more complicated than that.
You must apply for the correct rate assignments (i.e., residential vs. small commercial vs. large commercial) and determine if you’re applying for the best rate structure (e.g.,, time of use vs. flat rates). Note that many utility providers require a copy of the building lease with your application.
Any small error in data gathering and completing an application may result in incorrect billing, causing further problems down the road.
“Sure. I’d love to save you money.”
How often do you hear that from your utility vendor when you call for assistance?
When arranging for utilities, it is important to be aware of the various rate structures available to your business. Talk to your vendor about how you will use those utilities. Is your business open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week? Is your line of work utility-intensive? Would you benefit from a demand response rate? These are some of the factors that help determine your rate class and consequently your costs.
It’s likely you’ll have questions while completing your application such as deposit waivers, tax breaks, rebates or other incentives you might be eligible for. Aside from knowing the right questions to ask, simply finding and connecting with the right person can be time-consuming.
Finding the best rate can be nerve-racking and stressful if you don’t know what to look for. After all, the rate defines what you pay.
A grand opening
We wish we could tell you there are shortcuts for getting the power and water switched on in your new facility. But cutting corners and guesswork will only bring you trouble down the road.
The best thing you can do is to be knowledgeable about your options. Consult with customer service early on, and seek out all available rate options. Ask a lot of questions, do the research and prepare for curve balls hidden in application process
Don’t let lack of research and preparation darken the grand opening of your new location.
Keith Laake founded Cost Control Associates, Inc. in 1991 and has been responsible for strategic planning, marketing and sales, and overall management of the firm. He currently focuses on business development. Keith received his BBA from the University of Wisconsin and is a certified public accountant. Learn more.